Weekend again and we planned another trip; this time to Nara – the deer park. Getting to Kyoto, we took another train to Nara without much hassle. It was a reasonable long journey, in a fairly crowded train. We didn’t get nearby seats and I sat with three women, apparently a daughter-mother-grandmother trio. In less than five minutes, with no language whatsoever, they struck a rapport and offered cherry blossom candy to me. And in return, I offered them Kaccha Mango bites. Them, as me, were surprised by the new taste. The oldest of the ladies was very excited to talk to me, and she did; but all in Japanese. It was less awkward and more fun trying to tell her that I had no idea what’s happening in the conversation.
After a 45-minute journey, we reached Nara station. Gathering enough info from the tourist information counter, we set out to see the deers in and around Todaiji Temple and the famous Buddha shrine. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was a sight of awe and admiration. The 50 meter tall shrine of Buddha was more close to heart, after the briefing by our guide, Taka. Taka, a nice gentleman who appeared to be in his late 50s or more, took us around the place and explained the history of the temple. From him, we learnt that Nara was once the capital of Japan, and that the stone pavement in front of the temple had a story, and also that India was a dominant part in the shared history of the two countries.
I have never felt so proud to be an Indian as I now feel in a foreign land, where I go crazy about the Indian stones in the pavement, about the sculpture that resembles Lord Krishna, about the Sanskrit writings inside the temple, and a lot more. I went so crazy that I started randomly talking to a lady. She was looking at the lantern on which was the sculpture that resembled Lord Krishna. And I felt ‘obliged’ to let her know the possible Indian connection of the lantern! It was then I was first confronted about the ‘mysterious’ tattoo-like thing on my forehead. She wondered if my bindi was perhaps the third eye; popular belief goes something like, Buddha’s third eye is where the cosmic light originates from. I was baffled by the unexpected question, but all the more wanted to explain about Lord Shiva and the third eye as well. Thanks to Divya for stopping me from going out of control!
It was deers everywhere, and also were the sign boards that said that deers are wild animals. Honestly, I was scared. I didn’t want to linger around much. I tried and walked past a crazy lot of deers, as Divya and Saikat stayed back and fed the deers some rice crackers. That’s when I got my hands on the cherry blossom ice cream. Sakura is a fad, and yet I fall for it! It tasted good, but not awesome special! Perhaps, that’s the last time I fall for Sakura.
With a brief little shopping, we called it a day at Nara and took the train back to Kyoto. Meanwhile, I found a French cafe finally at Nara station. I have been looking for one since I somehow hope to find something vegetarian to eat at a place that’s not authentic Japanese. I am glad I did, and I hope to find more of ‘Vie de France’ in Japan! My food happiness rose to a whole new level at Kyoto station, when we found a store that sold MTR ready-to-eat aviyal! My faith of survival has been reinstated, once again!